Have a Happy Relationship with Food through Mindful Eating

Mindful eating will not only change the way you eat, it can change your whole approach to life. Your body image, self-esteem, health, relationships and confidence can all be transformed when you develop a happy relationship with food. Learn how to enjoy food more so that you feel full and satisfied without cravings!

Did you ever sit down, eat a meal and suddenly realize that your plate is empty? You barely remember eating or how the food tasted.

Did you enjoy your meal? Where were you during the meal? Your mind was elsewhere and your focus was on something completely different. It was far away from the joyful experience of eating and providing nourishment to your body. Your mind and body were not connected during this vital, nurturing activity. How can your food get digested properly if your mind is not aware of or involved in the eating process?

Your stomach may feel full after eating, but you really don't feel satisfied. You need something else to fill the void that mindless eating creates. A mindful eating practice helps you develop a stronger mind and body connection so you feel satisfied after every meal. You will also feel healthier and happier.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful Eating Meditations

Mindful eating is the practice of becoming consciously aware of every thing we do while eating. We are fully in the present moment and totally aware of each movement and each sensation. We notice how the food looks and smells, how each bite tastes, and how its texture feels. We watch how we pick up a fork or spoon, how we bring the food to our mouth, how we put it in our mouth, how we chew it, how we swallow it, etc.  We use all our senses to develop and explore our relationship with food. It is a mindful meditation practice that we integrate with eating.

Eating mindfully is not about control and willpower. In many diets and health programs, the focus is on food restrictions, self-control and portion control. This mindful practice allows new habits to form through acceptance and awareness. You become aware of your thoughts and reactions to food. You become non-reactive to negative thoughts and feelings that often cause over-eating. With a non-judgmental approach to your habits and feelings, you accept them with compassion and let them go.

A mindful eating practice takes a healthy approach to weight loss. The focus is not on "loss" of weight or on the "loss" of your favorite foods. With this practice, you begin to enjoy food more and feel more satisfied as you make choices that feel good for your body. You will be able to enjoy one or two pieces of chocolate and feel fully satisfied. The fear of eating the whole bar will be gone as your cravings disappear and you gain control of your relationship with food.

Many practitioners find that they are satisfied with less food than before. This mindful practice may help you discover and overcome false beliefs that are affecting your weight.

Mindful Eating

Gratitude is a spiritual practice and it is an essential part of the practice of mindful eating. Make it a habit to feel thankful and grateful for each meal as you sit down to eat.

Think about how pleasing and inviting the food looks and smells. Think about where it came from and all the energy that was required to bring it to your plate. Is it a gift from Mother Earth? Think about the nourishment that it provides  your body. Take a moment to feel complete and utter gratitude before you begin to eat. Appreciation for your food will help you make a more powerful and meaningful connection to food. Learn more about how to develop an Attitude of Gratitude

When we eat mindlessly or without focus, we feel full after a meal, but we are not satisfied. This leads to cravings and wanting to eat more as we search for something to satisfy our hunger. Mindful eating helps you make choices that will leave you feeling satisfied before you are full. This is one of more practical benefits of eating mindfully.

As you explore different foods and experiment with different tastes, textures and colors, you will learn which ones are satisfying and pleasing to you. For example, you may find low calorie foods may fill you up, but do  not satisfy you. However, you are a unique individual and only your body can tell you what's right for you.

"Dear God, please feed my hunger and restore my right mind."

-- Marianne Williamson
A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever

How to Eat Mindfully

Whenever you are about to eat something, whether it is a snack or a meal, set your intention to become fully present in the moment. Then give your full attention to the whole process of eating . Use all your senses to help you be fully present as you develop a healthier relationship with food and healthier eating habits.

As you eat, pay attention to what is happening in your body and how your mind is reacting. Notice your thoughts but try not to react to them. Notice how they try to take you away from the present moment. Observe your thoughts without criticism or judgement and then return your awareness to eating and the present moment.

"Our deepest self-knowledge resides in the body, which a great deal of the time does not speak the same language as the mind."

-- Annemarie Colbin,
Food and Healing

Notice if you feel satisfied or full after each bite. If not, keep eating. Many of us grew up with the idea that we must not waste food. We have to finish everything on our plates. Because we were taught this concept from our well-meaning parents, we feel guilty if we discard any food. If this has been your experience, consider which of these is the healthier decision:  a) using our body as a trash can by eating food we don't want or need; or b) discarding food that we don't need or want?  If there is a substantial amount of food left over, it can be stored for another meal or snack.

One of the most important aspects of eating mindfully is to stop eating when we are satisfied, regardless of whether there is still food on our plate. Always finishing what's on our plate is the reason many of us put on extra weight and then struggle to lose weight

The following video will guide you through a mindful eating meditation using a piece of food. It was created to help college students become more conscious of their relationship with food. It will help you get started on your mindful eating practice.

There are various way you can integrate a mindful eating practice during your everyday routine. You can practice with a snack or a meal and you can practice when you are having a nice warm cup of tea or coffee.

Do you drink coffee or tea while working on your computer or reading a book? Try this simple, but effective practice: 

Use both hands to pick up your cup. Each time you take a sip, make it a ritual. Place your full attention on drinking your beverage. You are not looking at the computer screen or thinking about what you were reading. You are fully aware and all your senses are involved in the experience of drinking, tasting and swallowing.

This gives your mind a break from your work or your book and brings your awareness to the present moment. You may notice that this practice helps to improve your concentration as your gain more control over your thoughts. You may also notice that you thoroughly enjoyed your favorite beverage and perhaps you will be satisfied with just one cup as you were totally present and enjoyed every sip. 

The following tips will help you continue to practice and improve your mindful eating habit. 

Tips for Successful Mindful Eating Meditations

  • Don't eat your meals while you are doing something else, i.e. watching TV, checking emails, working, reading, etc. Completely separate where you eat from where you do anything else. 
  • Make a ritual of each meal when you have time. Set the table as if for a king or queen.
  • Place utensils down between bites and only pick them up when you have finished chewing and swallowed your food. As you are eating more slowly, you may begin to feel healthier as food now gets digested better.
  • Choose foods that are pleasing to you and nourishing for your body.
  • Notice your food likes and dislikes without judgment or criticism. Accept your individualism with compassion.
  • Notice flavors and textures as they come and go. Stay focused on the food you are presently tasting.
  • Be mindful of thoughts and feelings that want to take you away from the present moment.
  • Notice cravings and what message they bring.
  • Be aware of the sensations of physical hunger and cravings. Can you distinguish between these different sensations?
  • Notice how the food feels in your stomach. Are you feeling satisfied or full? You will need to decide when to stop eating and it is not necessarily when your plate is empty. You may find you are satisfied with less food.
  • Explore what you need to feel satisfied. Experiment with different foods. When your body and mind are united, you will discover the answer.

The more your practice mindful eating the better results you will have and it will become a lifetime habit that comes naturally to you.

Have you tried Mindful Eating? How has it helped you?  

Comments? Questions? Please ask/share in the comments below or Contact Me directly.

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Other related articles:

Mindful Running

Running and Meditation

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